Judge rejects Amber Heard’s request to set aside Depp win

FALLS CHURCH, VA (AP) – A judge on Wednesday rejected actress Amber Heard’s request to set aside a $10 million judgment against her ex-husband Johnny Depp.

Depp won a defamation suit against Heard in a high-profile civil trial last month. Heard won a small judgment for $2 million on a counterclaim filed against Depp.

Earlier this month, Heard filed a motion seeking to quash Depp’s decision, or to declare wrongdoing. Her lawyers cited a number of factors, including a clear case of mistaken identity with a jury member.

In a written order, Judge Penny Azkaret dismissed all of Heard’s claims, saying that the juror’s issue was particularly irrelevant and that Heard could not show that she was prejudiced.

Hurd still has the ability to appeal the decision in the Virginia Court of Appeals.

This is a breaking news update. Below is an earlier story from AP.

FALLS CHURCH, VA (AP) — The Johnny Depp-Amber Heard libel trial, which earlier this year led to a livestream of one of Hollywood’s biggest stars for two months, as intense as the no-holds-barred soap opera Interest created, not fading silently.

Earlier this month, Heard’s attorneys filed a 51-page motion asking Judge Penny Azkaret to overturn the jury’s ruling that awarded Depp $10 million and Heard on competing defamation claims. 2 million were given.

The motion cites a number of reasons why the verdict is untenable, from the surprising decision to declare both sides victorious to one extent or another, to a bizarre case of mistaken identity with a jury member.

Among the issues raised:

Why $10 million?

Depp sued Fairfax County for $50 million after Heard wrote a 2018 op-ed piece about domestic violence in The Washington Post, in which she described herself as “a public figure representing domestic abuse.” referred to as. Depp’s name was never mentioned in the article, but his lawyers said that several passages in the article defame him by referring to the highly publicized abuse allegations that he filed for divorce in 2016.

Hurd then filed a $100 million counterclaim for defamation. By the time the case went to trial, his counterargument was reduced to certain statements made by one of Depp’s attorneys, who called Heard’s allegations of abuse a hoax.

The jury awarded $15 million to Depp and $2 million to Hurd over his counterclaim. The $15 million judgment was reduced to $10.35 million as Virginia law imposed punitive damages at $350,000.

Hurd’s attorneys say in court papers that the $10 million ruling is unsupported by the facts, and it appears that the jury failed to focus on the fallout from the 2018 op-ed piece — as they were supposed to do — and its Rather than just looking broadly at the damage done to Depp’s reputation as a result of the alleged abuse.

Depp’s lawyers, however, say the loss is supported by the testimony of his agent and others. They state that the precedents cited by Hurd’s team to support their arguments are “decades old, and none include an international A-list celebrity.”

Steve Cochran, a civil lawyer in Virginia who was appointed by a judge as a neutral conciliator to try to ease pre-trial search disputes, said he always believed that Depp’s case had the most The weak link was the damage, given evidence that the actor’s reputation had been ruined in Hollywood even before the op-ed’s publication. Still, he said he doubts Hurd might overturn the decision.

Scott Surwell, an attorney practicing law in Fairfax and Democratic state senator, also said he sees no reason to set aside damages.

“What the judge sees … is that the verdict was adequately supported in the trial and was not based on speculation or conjecture. (Depp) makes a lot of money from movies. It doesn’t seem to me that the damage is speculation or speculation. It was based on conjecture, but on evidence,” he said.

“Inconsistent and Unchangeable”

Heard’s lawyers argue that the decisions are fundamentally meaningless for Depp on the one hand and Heard on the other.

“The jury’s dueling decisions are inconsistent and irreparable,” his lawyers wrote.

However, Depp’s lawyers say that the form of judgment used by the jurors allowed him to clearly express which statements he found defamatory. When you look at the individual statements, he says, the dueling decisions make sense.

Jeremiah Denton III, a Virginia Beach attorney with experience in defamation cases, said he does not consider the verdict irreparable. If anything, he said, the highest award in danger is the $2 million awarded to Heard, as he said it was legally doubtful that Depp could be held liable for statements made by his attorney.

“I don’t understand why the judge allowed that issue to go to the jury,” he said.

Juror #15

One of the more unusual items in the discussion is a case of apparent mistaken identity with one of the jury members. According to court papers, a 77-year-old county resident received a subpoena for trial. But the man’s son, who has the same name and lives at the same address, answered the summons and served in his place.

Heard’s lawyers say Virginia law is strict about jury identification, and that a case of mistaken identity is grounds for falsification. He has presented no evidence that the 52-year-old son, identified in court papers, intentionally or fraudulently sought to replace his father, but argues that the possibility should not be discounted.

“The Court cannot believe, as Mr. Depp has asked it, that Juror 15’s apparently improper service was an innocent mistake. It may have been a deliberate attempt to serve on the jury of a high-profile case, Hurd’s lawyers wrote.

Paul Beckman, a Baltimore attorney who has also tried cases in Virginia, said that Hurd’s team needs to take any issues the juror has about it ahead of time.

“Anyone looking at a 52-year-old and a 77-year-old would have — hopefully — that there is a 25-year difference, and they would have a right to inquire about it,” he said. “I believe it’s too late to complain about the juror.”

Cochran also said he suspected that the confusion might result in a wrong decision or that the judge overturned the decision, but cautioned that it is difficult to predict because the issue is so rare.

“I’ve been practicing for 50 years and never saw that issue coming up,” he said.

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An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Depp sued for $25 million and that Heard’s counterclaim sought $50 million. ,

Lavoie reported from Richmond.

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